As summer nears its end, many children are facing what may be their biggest fear – going back to school. Some parents too will be facing their own fears (and no, it’s not saying goodbye as their child steps onto the bus). The return of school can bring about concerns over custody arrangements and visitation schedules for parents who share custody of their child, especially now that districts are deciding how the upcoming school year will be handled due to COVID-19. 

 On Tuesday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that it will be up to each school district to decide how the upcoming school year will be conducted. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools released a statement Thursday that CMS students will rotate through schools for in-person time with teachers for the first two weeks. By August 31, all students will be taking their classes remotely. Parents can automatically opt into the proposed schedule, but students are also being offered the option to do the first two weeks from home.

 Now, how does this factor in with parents that share custody? It often comes down to who holds decision making power. Some parents have joint legal custody while others have sole legal custody. With joint legal custody, parents usually have an equal right to make certain decisions about the child and their education. Most parents want what is best for their child education-wise, so working through any decisions that need to be made about the upcoming school year now can help to avoid stress later. 

 These decisions can include: 

1.    Will the child participate in the in-person time with teachers the first two weeks of school or be completely remote?

2.    Which parent will be primarily responsible for supervision of the child’s online learning or how will the responsibility be shared?

3.    Will there be any custody arrangements that need to be resolved as a result of distanced learning? For example, if you normally pick up your child from school at the end of the school day, will you instead pick up your child at your ex’s house? Will it be at the same time that school previously released for the day? 

4.    For younger children, will one parent have to adjust his or her work schedule to assist with online learning?

5.    Will the child participate in any type of extracurricular activities if they are offered? Who will be responsible for transportation?

6.    If the child has come of school age and the parents live in different districts, which school district will the child be enrolled in? Who will be responsible for keeping up with how the chosen district interprets and executes the governor’s directives?

Children have enough anxieties about the upcoming school year as it is without having to worry about their parents disagreeing. These anxieties can be reduced by working with your ex now to come up with a safe and reasonable plan for your child and their schooling.

If you or someone you know has any questions or concerns about custody arrangements and/or visitation schedules, contact Hatcher Law Group today.